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Bruins Open Defense of Stanley Cup vs. Dangerous Capitals
It’s not easy to repeat as the Stanley Cup champion in the NHL. In fact, no team has repeated as champions since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings, and no club has won a second straight Cup after winning its first in a seven-game finals since the 1987-88 Edmonton Oilers.
That’s the challenge facing the second-seeded Boston Bruins as they open their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series Thursday night against No. 7 Washington. The Bruins are -180 home favorites for Game 1 and -225 on the series line at Bovada’s NHL hockey odds.
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The Bruins ended the season strong, going 9-2-1. Despite not having Nathan Horton for the final 36 games of the season due to a concussion (he’s done for the year), Boston actually scored more goals this season than last. Second-year center Tyler Seguin is having a breakout year and six players have 50 or more points. The Bruins have scored six or more goals 13 times this season and are the league's top-scoring team at five-on-five. They have six 20-goal scorers, the most of any team in the league. David Krejci had a career-high 23 goals; last season he was the playoffs’ leading scorer last year, with 23 points, including 12 goals.
Washington better get a lead in Game 1 as Boston is 32-0 this season when leading after two periods. The disappointing Caps, who fired coach Bruce Boudreau during the season, didn’t even clinch a playoff spot until No. 81. They were able to land a No. 7 seed because Ottawa went in the tank at the end of the year. The Caps just got back No. 1 center Nicklas Backstrom after he missed 40 games with a concussion. His return can only help Alex Ovechkin, who finished with 38 goals and a team-leading 65 points, which aren’t numbers up to his usual standard.
Boston should have a massive advantage in net in reigning Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas. The 38-year-old wasn’t quite as good as last regular season but still finished this season with 35 wins, a 2.36 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. The Caps, at least to start the series, will have to turn to rookie Braden Holtby (4-2-1, 2.49, .922). He has only played in 21 NHL games in his young career. He starts due to injuries to Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvrith; the latter could be back in a few games.
The Capitals won three of the four meetings this season, including both in Boston (one in a shootout).
The gloves are off! Now the real season starts. Every big play, every penalty, it's like you're calling it. Live betting available throughout playoffs at Bovada.